Kansas City Townsend Law Firm

Underride Crashes With Commercial Trucks Pose Serious Risk

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2017 | Truck Accident

Most drivers understand that it’s important to use great caution when at the wheel. This is particularly true during periods of bad weather, when travelling at high speeds or when sharing the road with much larger (or smaller) vehicles. Collisions and crashes happen all the time, but deadly accidents and those that result in major injuries can often be prevented with adequate safety equipment and a considered approach to risk reduction behind the wheel for both the motorist and truck alike. These large truck crashes are often preventable, and the serious injuries that result from an underride crash.

When there’s a major size discrepancy between the vehicles involved in a crash, the smaller vehicle inevitably stands a greater chance of serious damage and injuries to the people inside it. That’s why understanding truck accidents are so important to your safety on the road. In the case of a smaller vehicle having a rear-end crash into the rear underride or side underride guards of a tractor-trailer, we find that these underride crashes can be deadly.

What Are Underride Crashes?

When people think of collisions and crashes with commercial trucks with semi-trailers, they typically think of accidents where a truck hits a car or vice versa. One of the most terrifying and deadly forms of commercial truck accidents, however, involve smaller passenger vehicles ending up underneath a larger commercial truck. These accidents are called underride accidents, and although they are preventable, they still pose a serious risk to many drivers. Roughly 200 people a year die in these collisions.

There are two kinds of underride crashes: rear crashes and lateral crashes. In a rear crash, a smaller vehicle strikes the back of slower moving or stopped commercial truck trailers. Without an adequate underride guard, the smaller vehicle can end up beneath the truck from an underride collision. Injuries from these crashes are often catastrophic, with the vehicle totally demolished and the passengers killed as a result.

Lateral underride crashes happen when a passenger vehicle slips underneath the side of the trailer attached to the commercial truck. The smaller vehicle can get damaged by the trailer itself or pinned under the front or rear wheels of the commercial truck. Major damage to the vehicle involved, as well as severe injuries and even deaths for passengers and drivers, are common in these tragic, but preventable, collisions.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests as well as previous truck accidents, show that both underride crash types can result in devastating serious injuries to those in the passenger vehicle . It can be tragic when a smaller vehicle slams into and rear-ends a commercial truck, and these truck accidents have plagued the trucking industry for decades, and have been the cause of serious injuries to accident victims across the United States.

Laws Require Rear Underride Guards, But Not Side Ones

In order to reduce the growing number of rear underride crashes, federal safety standards began requiring rear-end crash guards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in conjunction with the Department of Transportation have worked with lawmakers to put safety standards in place where the rear underride guards should prevent other vehicles from sliding under after colliding with the back of the truck. In some cases, however, cost-cutting practices in both manufacturing and maintenance have to lead to faulty underride guards. Rusted or poorly made guards can break or crumble when hit, leaving the smaller vehicle in a seriously dangerous situation, making maintenance in the trucking industry all the more important.

Side underride guards are not required at this time. These are often metal sheets hanging from the sides of the trailer, intended to prevent a vehicle from sliding underneath the open area. The trucking companies and truckers that make up the trucking industry need to consider the importance of these safety panels in order to reduce the potential for serious and fatal collisions with motor vehicles and small passenger vehicles.

What to Do if You’re in an Truck Underride Accident

If you or a loved one are an underride accident victim, please call our Kansas City based law firm today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Regardless of who may appear to be at fault, whether the motorist or the truck driver, it can be helpful to have a legal professional review your case and ensure you can make the strongest personal injury claim possible, and to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.

Call 816-408-6663 now for a free consultation and speak with our legal team.